A Military Background Plus an MBA: Career Rocket Fuel

For veterans who have earned an MBA, moving from service to their country to the private sector can be a much smoother ride.

Earning an MBA can ignite a career, particularly given the skills and traits already inherent in those who have gone through military training. It’s an advantageous combination for both the veteran and the company that hires her.

As noted by The Economist, “Effective leadership is perhaps the most important lesson military MBA students can pass onto their civilian counterparts.”

Veteran Ed Robinson told the magazine that his military experience – he led troops on combat tours in Iraq – gave him instinctive drive to later lead study groups in his MBA program. “When you’re out in the field, you can’t afford to hang around waiting for someone to give you direction,” he said, later adding:

“The military is simply better than business at getting people to do what you want them to do.”

Advantages of an MBA

For veterans transitioning into civilian life, earning an MBA can lead to a wide variety of career paths.

An MBA offers students education on the latest business strategies and technology tools used by organizations to get an edge on the competition, as well as preparing them to lead departments or entire organizations.

It also opens the doors to different specialty fields. They include:

  • Accounting: The backbone of any organization, the accounting department tracks income and spending and prepares financial reports used to make strategic business moves.
  • Finance: Financial managers focus on profit maximization, finding ways for organizations to improve cash flow as well as handle investments on the financial markets.
  • Marketing: A career in marketing is more challenging and rewarding than ever, with both traditional businesses and e-commerce using the Internet, email, social media and traditional marketing campaigns to reach consumers.
  • Information Technology: This has become increasingly attractive in recent years. Much of the decision making in business is now tied to data collection and analysis, making those in IT on the frontlines of smart business strategy.
  • Human Resources: A big part of a human resources career is recruiting. HR professionals make sure an organization has the right people in place to do the job.
  • Computer and Information Systems: Business professionals in these positions organize and strategize a firm’s IT plan. They must remain up-to-date on the latest IT practices and cybersecurity.
  • Advertising: Like marketing, advertising is a means of promoting a product or service. Advertising differs from marketing in that it is generally targeted as a more general audience, although social media platforms and new methods of market research enable the formation of campaigns that drill down to a specific population.


Veterans are known for making great entrepreneurs due to their leadership skills, discipline and persistence. An MBA can boost and complement these skills by providing the business knowledge needed to be a successful entrepreneur.

Additionally, military personnel are some of the most trusted people in American society, according to Fortune, with 73% of those surveyed by Gallup saying they have confidence in the military.

Many companies were founded by veterans across a variety of industries. They include Nike, Go Daddy, FedEx and Esurance. Fortune quoted FedEx founder Frederick Smith as saying that the guiding principle for running his business came from “the leadership tenets that I learned in the U.S. Marine Corps during my service in Vietnam.”


While an MBA can open doors to the top tiers of the organizational chart, it’s what veterans do when they get there that is impressive.

In addition to the entrepreneurs mentioned above, companies that have had or currently have veterans as a CEO include:

  • General Motors
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Footlocker
  • Verizon
  • Walgreens
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Kinder Morgan

The Economist wrote that if it came down to naming the most important asset veterans bring into the civilian world, it’s leadership. An MBA can maximize that potential.

All of this shows both the potential of veterans and the advantages of an MBA. It’s a combination worth considering for veterans who aspire to decision-making roles in the private sector.

Jacksonville University is a military-friendly university, and the Davis College of Business is proud to give veterans the academic credentials that can help them build on the lessons learned during a military career. A 100% online MBA can be completed as quickly as one year, and is structured to enable working professionals to weave coursework into a busy work schedule.



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